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RPI Sees Cup as Just a Start

Second Straight Tourney Title Lifts Hopes

By Pete Iorizzo

Albany Times Union, October 28, 2007

ALBANY - At the final horn, the RPI men's hockey team embraced at its net in what amounted to a team-wide group hug, a rather matter-of-fact celebration to conclude a second consecutive Governor's Cup championship.

Last year the Engineers hoped to win the Governor's Cup.

This year the Engineers expected to win.

RPI won this tournament in the same fashion as last season, with a victory over Colgate at Times Union Center. This time the scoreboard read Engineers 2, Raiders 0.

But the Engineers enjoyed their first successfully defended tournament championship since the 1990-91 season without much hoopla, perhaps a sign of rising expectations around a program that carries a 5-2 record into the start of ECAC play next weekend.

"This should be celebrated, but this cannot be the crowning achievement for this season," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "This is a steppingstone to much loftier goals."

Engineers goaltender Jordan Alford took home the tournament's MVP award after stopping 21 shots. Alford is 3-0 with three shutouts this season in games played in the Capital Region.

His performance underscored RPI's emerging strength -- its goaltending. Mathias Lange carried the Engineers to their semifinal victory over Union a day earlier by making 28 saves.

"Jordan and Mathias have been the cornerstones of our team," Appert said.

Alford received help from an RPI defense that blocked 22 Colgate shots.

"That's 22 shots that won't hit the net, 22 shots that I don't have to control the rebound," Alford said.

Fittingly, the Engineers' defense also accounted for their first goal, which proved to be the game winner.

Eight and a half minutes into the first period, RPI defenseman Peter Merth joined a four-man rush and accepted a pass from Paul Kerins several feet above the right circle. Merth then flicked a wrist shot past the stick of Colgate netminder Mark Dekanich.

RPI's second goal came with less than two minutes remaining in the first period, when Andrei Uryadov tossed a backhander at the net that squirted through Dekanich's pads and trickled across the goal line.

From there, RPI's defense carried the play. The Engineers scuttled six Colgate power-play chances and allowed only seven shots on goal in the final period.

"Their penalty kill did a great job," Colgate coach Don Vaughn said. "When we took shots, they didn't get through. When they did get through, he made the save."

The Engineers take a four-game win streak into Friday's game against Yale. RPI hopes to avoid a repeat of last season, when it followed its Governor's Cup win, its first in a tournament since 1998, with a 6-11-5 conference record.